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A Shocking Fishing Story: Tawakoni Tale

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I picked Travis and Randy up at eleven-thirty at the plant for our monthly sales related lunch at Hooters. They were young guys, somewhere in their mid twenties, and we had quickly become good friends in the few years I had lived in Dallas. More often than not we would discuss a few business related items until the first pitcher of beer arrived and then change the topic to football, baseball, fishing, hunting…
“So how is your inventory doing Travis?” I asked.
“Right now we are looking all right but in a few weeks I’ll work up a nice order for you.”
“That’s what I’m talking about” I said as I awaited the second pitcher of beer.
An extreme Hooter’s girl delivered the goods, “Enjoy gentlemen,” she said with a big smile as she turned to service another customer. Her tight orange shorts filled to the brim reminded me of a pumpkin, looking for a patch.
“Where do they find these girls?” I asked.
“They’re just part of the Dallas landscape,” Randy answered.
“Have you guys been doing any fishing?”
“Funny you should ask,” Travis said. “We’re heading out to Lake Tawakoni this weekend to catch some catfish. Would you like to join us?”
“You bet.”
“How about we pick you up tomorrow morning and we’ll head out there.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I told him.
“Randy has developed a new catfish technique that he claims will guarantee a limit every time,” Travis said.
“Really,” I said, “what’s your secret Randy? Do you have some type of super-potent, rancid, stink bait that the fish just can’t resist?”
“Better,” he said, “but I’m going to keep it under wraps until tomorrow.”
“If that’s the case I better get another pitcher of beer before I have an anxiety attack,” I said.
Travis and Randy picked me early the next morning and we headed east to Lake Tawakoni. Within forty-five minutes we had arrived at the Holiday Marina and launched our boat. There was a thick mist hanging over the water and the sun was just beginning to rise as we headed towards the dam. Something was strangely amiss. “Where’s your fishing tackle, fellas?” I asked.
Randy pointed to an old wooden box on the floor, “Right here.”
“What’s that?”
“My tackle box.”
“Where’s your poles?”
“We don’t need no stinkin’ poles.”
Not again.
We pulled up along the rip-rap close to the dam and Travis threw the anchor out. “If you guys think I’m going Noodling, you’re out of your friggin’ gourd,” I said.
“Just calm down; no one is going Noodling,” Travis said.
Randy opened up the wooden box and pulled out some type of electrical devise with wires hanging from it.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“This here is a fish shocker,” Randy said.
“A fish shocker?”
“That’s right. Do you remember the old hand cranked telephones they used to have years ago? This here is the magneto from a phone. When we crank up the magneto and drop these wires in the water, the electricity will stun the fish and they will float to the top. At that point, all we have to do is scoop them up with the net.”
And I thought the friggin’ Okie’s were crazy!
“That’s very sporting of you Randy, but I’m not going to electrocute any fish today,” I said.
“You don’t have to ─ you can be a scooper.”
First a “Spotter”─ now a “Scooper.”
“Scoop this! I’m not doing that; besides, it’s probably illegal.”
“Just relax and have a beer: watch this,” Randy said.
I had always been leery of the two words, “watch this.” During my childhood the two words always preempted some type of malicious act (rock through window, snowball thrown at car, tack put on chair…). Randy dropped the wires in the water and cranked up the magneto. Within seconds, fish were floating and Travis was scooping. I looked across the lake to see if anyone was around, but didn’t see a soul. “What if TPW (Texas Parks and Wildlife) catches us?” I asked. At that moment I heard a motor echoing across the water. I turned and saw a boat headed right at us: “That’s it boys ─ we’re busted. I wonder how my boss is going to like it when he sees that I have bailed us out of jail using my expense account.”
“Now just relax,” Travis said, “I’ll take care of this.”
The game warden pulled along side our boat, “Good morning fellas,” the rotund, grey-whiskered, catfish-faced looking man said. “Mind telling me why all these fish are floating on to top of the water?”
“Must have been a fish kill,” Travis said.
“Indeed ─ hand over the magneto.”
I now imagined myself in jail amongst the worst society had to offer. “What are you in for?” I would ask. “Murder, grand theft, rape…
What are you in for?”
“Fish shocking.”
The Horror!
“Did you hear me boy ─ hand over the magneto!”
“C’mon Uncle Charlie, we were just a funnin’,” Randy said.
“Boy, when I tell your father about this, he is goin’ whup your ass. Give me that thing and go home.”
I sat in the back seat of the truck in silence on the way home and contemplated the outing. The next time someone tries to take me fishing with no fishing poles, I’m not going.

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